Sam Altman, the former CEO of OpenAI who just lost his job and his seat on the organization’s board of directors is joining Microsoft. Altman will lead a new AI research unit alongside former OpenAI President Greg Brockman.
This is quite a surprising conclusion to a messy saga that saw the OpenAI board try to bring back Altman as a CEO over the weekend. Ultimately, former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear became the new interim CEO of OpenAI, replacing Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati.
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Microsoft invested billions of dollars in OpenAI and is the company’s biggest technology partner. The Redmond giant is leveraging OpenAI’s generative technology to power all of its “Copilot” products, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that the company’s partnership with OpenAI will continue.
“We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and in continuing to support our customers and partners. We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI’s new leadership team and working with them,” Nadella posted on X today.
We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and in continuing to support our customers and partners. We look forward to getting to know Emmett…
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) November 20, 2023
The Information reported yesterday that “dozens of OpenAI staffers” announced internally that they were quitting the company after hearing that Altman would not return as a CEO. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft hiring Altman and Brockman to lead the company’s new AI research team will push some of these disappointed OpenAI employees to join Microsoft.
Emmett Shear, OpenAI’s new CEO posted in September that he was “in favor of slowing down” the pace of innovation in AI. That really contradicts with Satya Nadella’s message to Altman today.
“We’ve learned a lot over the years about how to give founders and innovators space to build independent identities and cultures within Microsoft, including GitHub, Mojang Studios, and LinkedIn, and I’m looking forward to having you do the same,” Nadella said to Altman on X